April 11, 2016
While most of my Facebook and Instagram friends posted spring break pictures of scenes like this:
My spring break looked more like this:
Just kidding. Thanks to friends and family, not even occasional volley of hail could make a dent in what for me was the perfect spring break.
My Wizz Air flight to London took off at 6 am on Saturday morning. Although the process was inconvenient and the service nonexistent, the roundtrip ticket only cost me 86 euros, so I can't complain.
Boarding my discount airline flight
My first stop: lunch in Chinatown. Man, how I'd missed Chinese food and boba!
Entrance to Chinatown London
The Hong Kong subway map: so familiar!
With a full belly, I headed to the National Gallery, where I was thrilled to discover that almost all of London's museums have free admission and wifi! Reason #1 why London rocks.
The National Gallery, home to works of art from around the world
After a few more hours of exploration, I made my way to my friend Alexis' house, where she and her sister Jin were busy preparing for an Easter brunch, err feast, that would feed 11 people the next day. Such meticulous planning
As you can tell, they were truly the most wonderful hosts; I hung out with a few of their friends who were also visiting that weekend, had afternoon tea, and even went to Easter vigil before returning to their flat just past midnight. By 8 am on Sunday, everyone was once again up and bustling in the kitchen; 3.5 hours later, this was the result: Alexis and Jin are cooking goddesses
Stuffed beyond belief, we spent the afternoon playing Pandemic (a board game) and strolling around London. It'd been the perfect Easter weekend; with friends, food, and fun, what more could I have asked for?
On Monday, I bid farewell to Alexis and Jin and headed to my friend Sharon's flat. After lunch, boba, and a delightful trip through Chinatown, we spent the afternoon catching up, cooking dinner, and playing Mario Kart. Happy, is the best way to describe how I felt that day, just incredibly happy, to see Sharon, trade stories, share laughs, eat good food, and play (and fail, but improve at) Mario Kart.
Sharon! She refused to let me take a picture (sigh), but I did anyways.
"The best food in a city is that of its oppressed minorities" -Sharon
The next morning, I woke up to a beaming sun and began reading a book that Sharon had recommended the night before. (Often, it's all the little things that make an experience so sublime.) Once Sharon was up as well, we headed to the Facebook London office, where Sharon works as a product manager!
Defying gravity at the Facebook London office
After a delicious lunch at the office, I let Sharon get back to work while I met up with a friend from AIT-Budapest to walk around Hyde Park, pay a visit to the Sherlock Holmes Museum (at 221b Baker Street!) and eat fish and chips. On our adventure, we even helped two tourists figure out where they were going, as well as a local who had dropped her oyster card (transportation pass). Janos and I make a house call at 221b Baker Street, residence of Sherlock Holmes
I spent my final day in London appreciating the view of the city from SkyGarden with Jen's friend Lila and visiting a few iconic Harry Potter locations. Previously, Sharon had commented to me, "I now understand where JK Rowling got her inspiration for the crazy night bus scene; the double decker bus drivers here drive just like that!"
On top of the world! And when I say world, I mean London.
At King's Cross Station!
Leadenhall Market, the entrance to Diagon Alley
Back in Budapest after the having the best possible time in London, I was thrilled to have my mom come and visit! Together, we spent three days exploring places I hadn't yet visited, eating at my favorite restaurants, and enjoying each other's conversation and company.
Mom and I taking a tour of the largest synagogue in Europe, and the second largest synagogue in the world
Daubner: the best bakery in Budapest (according to the Internet)
Mom in front of the Danube
When people ask me what my favorite cities in Europe are, I immediately say London and Budapest (and perhaps Zürich). The reason has nothing to do with the sites or the history, or even the food. Rather, it's thanks to the people who made me feel loved and at home, no matter my physical location.